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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

No One Can Agree on the Purpose of Adaptation (and that's okay)


swollymammoth
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So, after participating in a few discussions on the WoT TV adaptation, I wanted to open a thread for discussion on a topic which I think underlies much of the discord surrounding Amazon's WoT

 

Do we want people who watch Amazon's WoT (non-book readers) to be inspired to go back and read and enjoy the original books? Should this adaptation be a way to bring a wave of new appreciation to Robert Jordan's books or not? 

 

Much has been said about the topic of whether or not the books should be "updated" to match modern sensibilities. In my opinion, the show's goal should be to reach people who would love the books just as they are but somehow or another have not discovered them yet just as the Game of Thrones adaptation did (soooo many normies fell in love with those books after watching the show). 

 

But what do you guys say? How much deviation from the books would it take to render the TV show fandom entirely separate from book fandom? Is there even value in pursuing a merging of these two fandoms at all or is it alright if the two exist mostly independently of one another? 

 

Personally, I think it's weird that we're approaching a day when I might run into someone who says to me, "I'm a Wheel of Time fan, but the books suck." 

 

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6 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

the show's goal should be to reach people who would love the books just as they are but somehow or another have not discovered them yet

 

I can guarantee you, this is not the way Amazon is looking at it. Amazon's goal is to get as many people to watch the show as possible. They want WoT to be mentioned in the same breath as GoT in terms of prestige television. They want people to buy WoT merchandise. They want the actors, directors, and production team to win awards. And they ultimately want WoT to enter the cultural zeitgeist in the same way GoT did.

 

People who like to read and who enjoy the series will probably check out the books. It's a byproduct of any relatively successful adaptation. And there's no doubt in my mind that you'll see a resurgence of interest in the Wheel of Time books - hopefully enough where total sales surpass Harry Potter. But you're kidding yourself if you think that the prime motivation of the tv series is to drive more book sales.

 

 

 

 

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I would hope the show encourages people to read the books.  But in talking to coworkers, friends, parents, etc.  I don't know that it actually works that way.  I would think a very small percentage of people work backwards from a show/movie to the book - unless they are already an avid reader.  I have nothing to go by but my own experience though.

 

I just hope the show is successful enough to take us all the way to the last battle.  If other people pick up the books - great!

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4 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

 

I can guarantee you, this is not the way Amazon is looking at it. Amazon's goal is to get as many people to watch the show as possible. They want WoT to be mentioned in the same breath as GoT in terms of prestige television. They want people to buy WoT merchandise. They want the actors, directors, and production team to win awards. And they ultimately want WoT to enter the cultural zeitgeist in the same way GoT did.

 

People who like to read and who enjoy the series will probably check out the books. It's a byproduct of any relatively successful adaptation. And there's no doubt in my mind that you'll see a resurgence of interest in the Wheel of Time books - hopefully enough where total sales surpass Harry Potter. But you're kidding yourself if you think that the prime motivation of the tv series is to drive more book sales.

 

 

Ha.  You beat me by a minute or two.

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3 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

I can guarantee you, this is not the way Amazon is looking at it.

Elder Haman, my old rival (well, technically new since I'm still new to these forums lol). You are absolutely correct, but can I help it if that makes me sad? Again, I can understand where Amazon is coming from. I'm a red white and blue blooded capitalist myself who would sell his own grandma for a buck so long as you asked me twice.

 

Your justifications for the adaptation often lean towards the economic, the realistic. Your frequent statement that the feminist stuff is being leaned into because it makes good marketing is accurate. But does that make it adequate justification? What about the artistic aspects of adaptation? What does Amazon's WoT owe the source material? What do they owe the fans whose passion enabled this adaptation to make financial sense in the first place? 

 

Most importantly, I am interested to know what it would take for you to be disappointed with this adaptation? Is it enough that you get to see WoT iconography presented on screen, or is there something else that you're hoping to get out of this experience? 

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2 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

I am interested to know what it would take for you to be disappointed with this adaptation? Is it enough that you get to see WoT iconography presented on screen, or is there something else that you're hoping to get out of this experience? 

It's hard to know what it would take for me to be disappointed until I see it. I am by nature an optimistic person, so I don't spend time worrying about the worst case.

 

I feel much like I did just before Fellowship hit the big screen - excited, but nervous at the same time. What I have seen so far gives me confidence that the people who are making this show care about Wheel of Time and are trying to give audiences a solid adaptation of the series.

 

What I'm hoping to get? As hokey as this might sound, I'm looking forward to bonding with my kids over this. They're of an age where they will be leaving the nest soon, and I'm hoping that they will connect with the story and the characters and that we can add WoT to the threads that will tie us together when they're off to college (or wherever life takes them).

 

If it goes wildly wrong? We will just have to see. I'm prepared to like it. I want to like it. But, I wanted to like each of the last 6 Star Wars movies too...

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59 minutes ago, swollymammoth said:

Personally, I think it's weird that we're approaching a day when I might run into someone who says to me, "I'm a Wheel of Time fan, but the books suck." 

 

 

This is inevitable. You see the same for LOTR and GOT (well, maybe before GOT S8). And there are plenty of people out there who may love show but just aren't big readers... and Jordan's descriptive prose and word count will turn a lot of people off. I'm not complaining about either, I love the books, but that's just how it is. I'm sure the show can make many people engage with the books who never would have otherwise, too.

 

I would watch a scene for scene adaptation of the books. That's not happening. I'd watch fourteen to twenty seasons of a WOT TV show. That's not happening either. What I've seen so far is mostly what I'd expect when you need to convey book information spread out over fifteen chapters in a three minute scene.

 

There are things that'll bug me but won't ruin the show that they could do, like "de-genderize" souls. There are things they could do to turn me off, like change who the Dragon Reborn is (this isn't happening). And I'm sure if the show just feels bad and contrived on its own merits I'll drop it, too. Is the show going to smooth over/balance some things regarding proportions of rape and spanking? I'm really not concerned with those changes. 

 

I've been positive, optimistic, and open minded about the show, but I am in a "wait and see" mindset, not a "panic before seeing" mindset.

 

There's a lot more I could say, and a lot I will say when the show is out.

 

Edit: When the show is out, you'll probably see a lot of "let's see what they do with this" before I pass final judgment. That's the kind of annoying guy I am. But if it doesn't pay off I'll come down on it. Gosh, I defended the Jaime and Bronn trip to Dorne ahead of release so much, because in principle it's not a terrible idea, but the execution was all around just bad, and oh I let the hammer drop on that one on the GOT boards I frequented.

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30 minutes ago, Elder_Haman said:

What I'm hoping to get? As hokey as this might sound, I'm looking forward to bonding with my kids over this. They're of an age where they will be leaving the nest soon, and I'm hoping that they will connect with the story and the characters and that we can add WoT to the threads that will tie us together when they're off to college (or wherever life takes them).

 

i never thought about it, but i realize it's a lot similar for me. I have read wot, and my brother has read wot. my roleplaying group has not read wot, some of them know that those books exhist but nobody wants to read 14 of them. but with a tv show, i could share wot with them too.

my brother's girlfriend also has not read wot, again, she cites lack of time and the books being too long. she's also someone with whom i want to share wot.

and with a bunch of other good friends.

if this thing becomes as popular as GoT, I may even be able to drop some references with my students.

 

it's not the only thing i hope to get from WoTTV, but it's one of them.

 

as for the OP, perhaps "what's the purpose" is not the right question. A better question, one that also I saw underlying every discussion on what would be an acceptable change, would be "what's the heart and soul of the saga?"

for example, would degenderizing souls be a small cosmetic change, or would it be a huge thing? if they smooth over gender issues, is that a small cosmetic change, or an improvement over a genuine weakness of RJ writing, or something that would lose wot unique world?

and again, different people have different ideas on what's the soul of a story.

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About the Jamie and Bronn thing, the GoT showrunners and crew were about as technically talented as we've ever seen for television. Acting, art direction, sets, sound design, music, all were as good as you'll ever see in the medium. Even the CGI was miles better than MCU. But they were not good storytellers. George Martin is. So when they had a story to stick to and they did stick to it, it worked.

 

Luckily, Robert Jordan was a pretty damn good storyteller and the showrunners in this case have a finished product to work with. On the other hand, though I don't think they need to go in any new or unexpected directions, they do need to cut quite a bit because they aren't going to get 15 seasons. Any remotely successful show can't keep actors on contract that long, not for the level of effort and time and travel that will be required to film this. They're also going to need to show events that the books did not, because they can't fall back on the narrative conceit of having so much worldbuilding and character development taking place directly in the characters' heads. That works great in books but is nearly impossible to pull off on film. It's a big part of why Dune has been so difficult to adapt.

 

So some things they have no choice on. I hope adaptation decisions that deviate from strict scene-by-scene, word-by-word adherence in that sense are mostly limited to these concerns. Does anything really need to be "updated for modern sensibilities?" I don't personally think much. The oldest book is barely 30 years old. They're not adapting Chaucer. And as fantasy of the 20th century goes, WoT is extremely progressive and inclusive already. I cringe sometimes at the way Robert Jordan wrote women in love, and that could stand to be improved, but frankly that's the place of actors anyway. If people are up in arms about allowing actors and writers to portray that more realistically, I think that's a silly concern.

 

On the other hand, if any of the big changes people fear actually happen, I think that would likely be a disaster. It's not that you can't tell a great story with a male hero reborn as a woman. It's that changing core details of the world that way risks breaking the internal logic of the story in a way that has too many downstream impacts and becomes impossible to reign in. That's the real struggle with adaptations. At a certain point, you're better off just telling a mostly original story vaguely inspired by, something like Clueless as compared to Emma or maybe even on the more extreme end the barely there relationship between Hamlet and Lion King. They're both great stories, but the latter is barely an adaptation.

 

In spite of how possessive nerdish fan communities get about these huge franchise properties like this, novels are not sacred texts. I think it's fine in principle to make an adaptation that is only loosely inspired by and changes a lot. But I don't think that's what Amazon or Rafe or anyone is shooting for. It's one thing to do that for adapting a single book story. But when you have the level of detail in worldbuilding in something like WoT, it's impossible to replicate that without just actually replicating it and the showrunners would be wise to stick as closely as possible to keeping pretty much exactly the same core events and character motivations. It's not their "goal" to stick as close to source material as they can, though. The goal is to make something worth watching in its own right, that attracts a large fan base as well as prestige for the studio and awards for the cast and crew. Doing that by adapting instead of coming up with wholly original ideas is just an avenue that makes it easier because Robert Jordan already did the heavy lifting of creating a world with great characters put into interesting situations together in a compelling sequence of events. It's an instrumental imperative to stick close to source material when the source material is really good, but it's not a moral imperative. I don't think they "owe" fidelity to the original author or the fans. That's why they paid for rights. They no longer owe anything except making the best possible show they can. It just happens that the simplest way to do that is to stick pretty close to the source material.

 

Will they? I have no idea. I hope so, but I'm not gonna get mad about anything before seeing even a single complete episode. I'll probably need to see at least an entire season before passing judgment. I think a lot of fans take this to ridiculous lengths, though. As an example, I think right now The Expanse is the best show on television. It's certainly my favorite. It's a critical darling as far as sci-fi goes where most anyone who cares about television as a medium loves it. But I've never read the books. I had a friend over this past summer who had read the books but never saw the show, and he watched it and was just complaining about ridiculous crap. Avasarala wasn't cussing enough. They didn't find someone 6'8" to play Bobby Draper. Alex wasn't ugly enough. Seriously, how the hell do you ever enjoy anything? Casting directors have to cast people who actually exist. They can't just conjure your head canon out of the ether and bring the perfect vision into existence who can also act.

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Amazon’s objective is of course to make money somehow. Getting more Prime-subscribers by launching an “exciting new franchise” is one way, and using bloated production costs to launder otherwise taxable income is another. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.

I doubt the show will get a 4th season, or even a third, unless it’s as succsful as GOT was. There’s a limit to how much money even Amazon is willing to burn in the face of diminishing returns, when they have LOTR coming up, and that’s a much better established franchises.

And I am not very hopeful after seeing the promo shot of the whiteskirts.

That said, I hope WOTTV will be an enjoyable watch for everyone.

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Hopefully the show is bit more exciting I think it will be better than the books 

 

I find the books pretty slow going and there are characters I don’t really care about there’s too many really

I really don’t care about the white cloaks I don’t really see much point to them 

I thought Perrin would have a bigger role but he vanishes for huge chunks of the books 

 

I like the dream stuff Matt Nyeve and Elaine 

 

Rand can be interesting but not always some of his chapters with the adie sedi really drag and his wife thing is just odd but his best with Min I think 

 

 

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11 hours ago, AdamA said:

 

Will they? I have no idea. I hope so, but I'm not gonna get mad about anything before seeing even a single complete episode. I'll probably need to see at least an entire season before passing judgment. I think a lot of fans take this to ridiculous lengths, though. As an example, I think right now The Expanse is the best show on television. It's certainly my favorite. It's a critical darling as far as sci-fi goes where most anyone who cares about television as a medium loves it. But I've never read the books. I had a friend over this past summer who had read the books but never saw the show, and he watched it and was just complaining about ridiculous crap. Avasarala wasn't cussing enough. They didn't find someone 6'8" to play Bobby Draper. Alex wasn't ugly enough. Seriously, how the hell do you ever enjoy anything? Casting directors have to cast people who actually exist. They can't just conjure your head canon out of the ether and bring the perfect vision into existence who can also act.

 

 

This.  I am a major fan of the Expanse books, read them before the show and I agree that the Expanse is one of the best shows on TV atm.  The showrunners of the Expanse have been very faithful to the source material but they have also made some pretty big changes.  Some of these changes are to combine/discard/enchance storylines, some are to change/merge characters and most of these changes can be attributed to going from books to television.  I find most of their changes to be very reasonable considering it is an adaptation.  Some of their changes make for a better story than the books and some of their changes end up worse but overall it has been an excellent experience for a fan of the books.  I just hope WoT makes me feel the same way, it is unfortunate that your friend can't see the forest for the trees.

 

One last thing about the Expanse is that we also have to deal with the replacement/removal of a major character but in this case it is due to highly public accusations and it is not a great feeling.

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A counterpoint example would be The Magicians - the TV show is both dramatically different to the books it is based on, and (IMO) much better than the books. This shows that faithfulness to source material is not some a priori moral good in itself: the writers of the show in that case correctly divined that the books provided a good launching pad from which to tell a much better story. 

 

I don't expect or want that to happen with WOT, and suspect the relationship between the books and the show will more closely resemble The Expanse, but there's no particular rule when it comes to these things.

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15 hours ago, Siberian Rat said:

And I am not very hopeful after seeing the promo shot of the whiteskirts.

 

9 hours ago, DaddyFinn said:

I'll gladly sacrifice some shining plate armor(we don't know if that's been removed)

 

8 hours ago, TheMountain said:

That's why they wear skirts now. If they wore plate armor they would be too OP ?

for the hundredth time: whitecloack armor has not been removed. you can see it very clearly underneath the white drapes.

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56 minutes ago, DaddyFinn said:

Yeah I've noticed these thin pieces of white armor. Have we seen other ones?

 

20211019_203505.thumb.jpg.9d9d38a7766281666e3d2fd13df4fce9.jpg

to me, it's perfectly clear they are all wearing breastplates, not just the thin pieces on the left arm. maybe not exactly the armor how was described in the books, but clearly a full armor. the rigid shapes of the shoulders can't be explained in any other way.

 

but apparently other people don't see it, so perhaps you guys who don't see the armor can instead explain to me why they have those rigid shapes around their shoulders and what they are if not some kind of breastplate.

no sarcasm meant, i'm apparently alone in this interpretation and i may be wrong

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9 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

to me, it's perfectly clear they are all wearing breastplates, not just the thin pieces on the left arm. maybe not exactly the armor how was described in the books, but clearly a full armor. the rigid shapes of the shoulders can't be explained in any other way.

 

but apparently other people don't see it, so perhaps you guys who don't see the armor can instead explain to me why they have those rigid shapes around their shoulders and what they are if not some kind of breastplate.

no sarcasm meant, i'm apparently alone in this interpretation and i may be wrong

 

I think it is a leather harness thingy that holds the shoulder piece that you see the shape of. I do not think it is a breastplate. It would also be incredible impractical  and hot - they would have to wear full clothing, plate and the their white garbs on top of that. With the fabric holding the plate in place while riding, the risk of chafing gets bigger. 

 

I think and hope that these are their every day clothing, and then they have plate for when they are expecting battle. No one rides around all day in full plate, that would NOT be fun. 

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5 minutes ago, Morani said:

 

I think and hope that these are their every day clothing, and then they have plate for when they are expecting battle. No one rides around all day in full plate, that would NOT be fun. 

yeah, the children of the light would never do anything impractical. like, they absolutely would not dress their sentries in revealing colors and have them stomp around and shout regularly to declare to every wannabe spy their exact location, right??

if they can do that, they can always march around in full armor.

 

but ok, i can accept that maybe it's a leather harness. if you accept that it can be a breastplate.

we need to see more to know if the whitecloacks wear armor, or whatever

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33 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

yeah, the children of the light would never do anything impractical. like, they absolutely would not dress their sentries in revealing colors and have them stomp around and shout regularly to declare to every wannabe spy their exact location, right??

if they can do that, they can always march around in full armor.

 

but ok, i can accept that maybe it's a leather harness. if you accept that it can be a breastplate.

we need to see more to know if the whitecloacks wear armor, or whatever

 

Haha, it's a deal ?

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